Friday 11 October 2019

Nobel Time Again

I haven't read anything by Peter Handke (though I know a couple of his films), so I have no idea how good he might be as a writer. However, the furore that has greeted Handke's winning the Nobel Prize for Literature is giving me much amusement. This piece in The Guardian is hilarious. Salman Rushdie (passed over again?) is particularly incandescent, but the likes of Hari Kunzru, Slajov Zizek and even Jennifer Egan, speaking for Pen America, run him close. This is clearly an award that has annoyed all the right people, and annoyed them intensely.
  The principal source of all this fury is Handke's idiotic remarks about certain incidents in the Balkan Wars in the Nineties, and his unstinting support for Slobodan Milosevic. These are not the kind of things you'd expect to warm the hearts of the Nobel committee. Nor, come to that, was Handke's call in 2014 for the Nobel literature prize to be abolished as a 'false canonisation'. And, whatever else he might be, Handke is an ageing white European male – just the kind of winner the committee was being urged by all and sundry to avoid, in favour of voices, preferably female, from the Third World. (His co-laureate, admittedly, is a 'dreadlocked feminist' called Olga Tokarczuk, but she is still guilty of being white and European.) Could it be that the Nobel committee believe that freedom of expression and quality of writing trump political correctness? It seems hardly likely, but that is the impression this year's award gives. It's actually made the Nobel Prize for Literature slightly interesting for once.

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